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Toy Story 2 is kept near and dear

10 Jun


Toy Story 2 is one of those rare films where the sequel is equal to or better than the original. Pixar develops the Woody (Tom Hanks) character into Gary Cooper like hero that resonates with young and old audiences. They also expand Buzz Lightyear’s role (Tim Allen) turn him into a larger than life hero.  Toy Story 2 is more than a visual exploration of computer animation. It is a film that entertains a set of serious ideas rooted in the importance of loyalty and friendship. The second installment brings back all of the original characters, as well as some new ones that will expand upon the film’s humor in a way that balances its sharp wit with physical humor. Audiences are treated to Pixar’s toy box and leave feeling good about those special toys that everyone kept near and dear as a child.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A

Tooth Fairy short changes the kids

23 Apr


WWE superstar, The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson is used to putting on a pair tights and jumping around, but in the Tooth Fairy his purple outfit includes a pair of wings and a magic wand. This children’s film is about a minor league hockey player known for knocking out opposing players teeth out with crushing cross checks. He is punished by the fairy world for being mean to a young fan. Derek (Johnson) is like a bull in a china shop as he realizes he is the worst fairy all time, but his competitive nature and his conscience will not allow him to fail. The moment the puck was dropped I wanted to bench him for poor play. He never finds his footing and falls flat on the ice with jokes and sight gags. Ashley Judd and Julie Andrews also collect a paycheck, but in the end, the Tooth Fairy short changes the kids.


Chuck’s Grade: F

Adam’s Grade: N/A

OZ the Great and Powerful is missing more than ruby slippers

11 Mar


OZ the Great and Powerful is missing more than the iconic ruby slippers from the MGM’s 1939 film. Disney ends up producing this movie with one arm tied behind its back because Warner Brothers would not release the rights to Dorthy shoes and most of the noteworthy character likenesses, as well as not being able to cast their original choices. Sam Raimi does his best with a script that keeps repeating itself and a lead actor (James Franco) that won’t stop smiling. The wicked witches (Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz) are the most interesting part of OZ, but they will fall trap to a one-note performance in the end when the film attempts to connect the story to the original. I’m sure children will like the film and it will lead to their parents introducing them to the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion, which a good thing because then they will realize the difference between a movie and a masterpiece.


Chuck’s Grade: C

Adam’s Grade: C

The Incredibles is a super movie

7 Mar


At a time, when every other month another big star is donning a costume or exhibiting an unstoppable superpower, the animated film, The Incredibles continues to be one of the best superhero films of all time. Brad Bird’s inventive story mixes action/adventure along with humor to create a film that everyone can appreciate and enjoy.

Bob aka Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) and his wife Helen aka Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) were forced into retirement and to live a “normal” life with their three “gifted” children Violet, Dash and Jack-Jack, but after 15 years, Bob gets his chance to come out of retirement. Shortly thereafter, he realizes that it will take a family effort to rescue the world.

This film connects with audiences of all ages because it is more about the “modern” family overcoming real-life problems and being there for one another than it is fighting evil villains. The combination of Bird’s story and Pixar’s dazzling visuals creates a “super” movie.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A

The Red Balloon

30 Jan


Recently, I read an article that provided a list of films a young person should watch by the time they are 14-years old.  Le Ballon Rouge meaning The Red Balloon was one of them. I missed the article’s prescribed deadline, but I did finally get around to watching the short film. On his way to school, Pascal, finds a red balloon and takes it with him. Soon afterward, the balloon begins to have a mind of its own, and follows Pascal around Paris. The film brought me back to being a kid again. At least for the film’s 35 minute duration. The Red Balloon reminds audiences the adventures a child experiences and the meaning of friendship. The dialogue is sparse, but the simple device of a balloon and special effect help tell a magical story of imagination.  In 1956, it won the Palme d’Or for short film and an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: A

Emperor’s New Groove

15 Sep

Disney delivers a laugh out loud animated film with a great story that keeps children and adults entertained.  The movie is about a insensitive young Emperor named Kuzco (David Spade) that is used to getting what he wants when he wants it.  This is your classic story of a mean character having the tables turned and being turned into a Llama. Maybe the particulars, are a little different, but the principle character is forced into re-discovering his true self through a series of humbling, but hilarious scenarios.   The character transformation is fun to watch and his new “master” Pacha (John Goodman) is an absolute hoot.

The actor’s voices take the film to another level, as well as the special attention paid to the animation’s detail. As a young adult, I love the pace of this film and think this is one of those films that you can put in the DVD player and the whole family will enjoy.


Adam’s Grade: A

Chuck’s Grade: N/A